Tips for Building a Heisman Trophy Autograph Collection

“About four years ago, I started my quest to assemble every Heisman winner’s autograph in index card form and to have them authenticated by PSA/DNA.”

Jeff Taladay

One of the greatest truths in our hobby is that collections can be themed in any way and structured accordingly. Still, a degree of focus is usually an important element in most collections. Key card and player collections are tenets of the PSA Set Registry, and autograph collections can be designed in similar fashion. In fact, a recent SMR article details an excellent collection of index cards autographed by Heisman Trophy winners.

Bo Jackson – 1985 Heisman Trophy Winner

This is a collection that makes good, logical sense. The Heisman Trophy is an internationally-recognized award honoring the top college football player each year. The award was first presented in 1935, and while a handful of awardee signatures are difficult to obtain, the majority provide a reasonable challenge that with diligence can be obtained by most hobbyists. In terms of autograph media, a host of items could be considered but the list shrinks considerably if the collector wishes to use one type of item throughout the collection. Along those lines, index cards seem the obvious choice.

Though not used as often by contemporary hobbyists, index cards were a very popular medium for autograph collecting for decades and vintage pieces are therefore generally available. Truthfully there is little in the autograph collector’s kit that presents a signature better than an unlined index card. An additional bonus is that while they are versatile and attractive, signed index cards are typically the most cost-effective manner by which a collector can purchase an autograph.

archie griffin
Archie Griffin – 1974 & 1975 Heisman Trophy Winner

If I were to begin this collection myself (or one similar), I would do so in the following manner:

  • Secure a list of all Heisman Trophy winners and determine which ones are still living.
  • Familiarize myself with the rarity of each signature so that I understood price ranges that I could expect to pay for each signature I could not obtain on my own.
  • Purchase a membership to SportsCollectors.Net and research the TTM signing habits, fees and mailing addresses of the still-living subjects.
  • Begin with the “low-hanging fruit,” which in this case means the subjects who sign TTM or make regular appearances on the autograph show circuit.
  • Begin to research pricing for the deceased subjects and set up appropriate eBay searches. If you haven’t yet begun using it, Collectable is an app that allows you to set up eBay-like searches for all participating auction houses. It’s pretty handy!
  • Decide how I want to present my new collection. The options I would consider most intently would begin with having the cards encapsulated so that they could be placed in a display case with other memorabilia. An Archival Methods binder of cards with accompanying PSA/DNA letters of authenticity would also be a portable, contained yet dynamic presentation.

One critical step that would span the entire run of the collection would be to research as much as I could about each player and signature in the collection. Learn what to look for and which signatures are most prone to forgery. While I would also have the collection authenticated by PSA/DNA, I know that I could save time, money and potential frustration by educating myself as well. As far as learning about the player, I have always found that a deeper understanding of the significance of the subject leads to greater appreciation of the item and ultimately more enjoyment in the collection. After all, enjoyment is the driving force behind my participation in this hobby.

les horvath
Les Horvath – 1944 Heisman Trophy Winner

Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

Johnny Robinson - Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019!!!

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